This post is direct, a little brash, and most definitely honest. People who follow us know our motto is Be Bold, which we try to live by everyday; we use this motto not just for our clients, but also for ourselves. Today, for the sake of this post, we have to Be Bold to the fullest.
The digital marketing industry is bullshit.
Yes, that’s a brash statement, but we can’t beat around the bush any longer. We honestly feel sorry for the plethora of small businesses out there that have been burnt by horrible marketing companies time and time again. We also feel sorry for the multiple business owners that get prospected in the worst of ways from many of these digital marketing agencies. Owning a small business is special. Owning a small business is tough. One of the biggest themes we hear from small business owners is how they have had AWFUL experiences with digital marketing agencies; this is a major problem that needs to be addressed.
The digital marketing industry lacks accountability. It’s that simple. Our mission at GoEdison since day one is to bring a major sense of integrity and accountability to the marketing arena, and even, specifically, small and local businesses.
We’ve met with smaller businesses that have been burnt and spent a ton of money with bad marketing agencies on a regular basis. Understandably, when we speak with business owners who have had these bad experiences with our competition, there is major reservation. Since inception, it’s safe to say our mission has grown. Thanks to hearing these experiences, we now feel it’s our duty to be a key accountable marketing figure in the small business sector.
Why We Have to Speak Up: Problems with the Digital Marketing Industry
It’s time that credible marketing companies come forward and address this issue. For the immense number of bad digital marketing agencies out there, we also understand there is a fine group of marketing companies that care deeply about their clients.
If we truly want to help the small business world and bring a sense of accountability to the marketing industry, then we (GoEdison) have to speak up. Along those lines, we also have to be honest with the main issues many businesses face when working with a marketing agency. Listed below are the top five challenges many small business owners face when they hire a marketing agency.
Small business challenges when working with a lesser marketing agency:
- Poor communication (or no communication in many cases)
- Lack of understanding of services being performed
- Lack of results - No ROI
- Lopsided contracts that hinder small businesses and favor the marketing agency
- Zero transparency on all levels of the client-vendor relationship
Over the course of this blog we will be addressing many of these challenges. Even though MOST of these problems arise from broken and bad processes from digital marketing agencies, there are a few challenges that specific business owners pose as well.
Poor Communication With Your Digital Marketing Agency
Personally, I’ve worked in the digital marketing realm for over six years. At times, I feel like I’ve seen it all. Throughout my time, one thing has always seemed to be the trend with small businesses and their digital marketing agencies: POOR COMMUNICATION.
Poor communication is at the center of bad relationships in general; we get that. However, poor communication is 100% the central problem of bad business. The most common theme we hear from clients about past poor experiences with digital marketing companies is the lack of communication they receive.
When you outsource your marketing, it’s critical you have strong communication with the company that holds your digital brand’s reputation in their hands. Good communication is a must - to say the least.
Follow the checklist below to keep your digital marketing agency honest and in strong communication with you.
- Have multiple points of contact with your digital marketing agency. Many agencies just assign “one” point of contact. Make it required you have at least two contacts. If this isn’t an option, be suspicious.
- Set a communicated work-flow expectation. What we mean by this is simple; we know no one wants to be bogged down with multiple calls and emails, but set the expectation early that you receive regular meetings whether by phone call or in-person. Also, set the expectation that you need to be able to hear back from your agency within 24-48 hours. Responsiveness is key.
- Require a live marketing calendar. This could be as simple as a Google Doc. Communication and expectations can be more effective if both parties understand ALL that is going on. This calendar allows both parties to stay in the “now” and it keeps your agency accountable.
Lack of Understanding about Your Marketing Services
It’s common to hear that many companies who hire a digital marketing agency are unsure of what’s actually being performed. We won’t lie, we’ve even been guilty of this in the past - alluding to receiving services ourselves. This is a very common issue; most of the time it can be alleviated if the right questions are asked.
There are a plethora of marketing services that can be offered, and the terminology of these services between client and agency often gets mixed-up, which can be immensely confusing.
There is a simple solution to this problem: have a clearly defined use and description of your services. This sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many people hire bad SEO companies and don’t know what they’re paying for. Any quality agency will have their services defined. If we’re being 100% honest with you, this is something GoEdison will have to be better about and will be a major priority moving into 2018. Although our services are turn-key and our clients are happy, we could still be better at defining WHAT we do for each one of our great clients.
Digital Marketing Agencies “Are Cool” Until It’s Work
I need two hands to count how many digital marketing agencies in Denver I’ve seen come and go in the last three years. Let’s be honest, most people who have a marketing background are fooled when they conclude they can therefore run their own digital marketing agency; this simply isn’t the case. Just because you’re a good marketer, doesn’t make you a good business owner. There is a MAJOR difference.
Many marketers start their agencies for selfish reasons - not because they actually think they can bring a turn-key solution to clients. “They want their own gig” or the title of “CEO.” It all sounds foolish, and it truly is, but this is the hard truth about the digital marketing industry.
When we started and created GoEdison, we had one solution in mind: provide a simple and streamlined service for small businesses. We were sick of watching our local small businesses throw money out the window to bullshit marketing companies that could care less about them. We knew we had a solution, and - in many ways - we became a small business advocate in the marketing realm.
There are too many “basement agencies” that are glorified freelancers who are “claiming to be an agency” so they can charge more or feel more legit. We recommend doing your due-diligence on any marketing agency you’re about to hire. Look at their track record. How long have they been around? How has their communication been with you since the very beginning? Are there any red flags (ie: the inability to give more than one contact - as referenced earlier)? Lastly, what’s your gut telling you about these guys? Learning the history of an agency can tell you A LOT about a company. Most agencies have very poor track records, which are easy to uncover if you dig deep enough - especially these days.
Work With People You Like
One of our core principles at GoEdison is this: “We want to work with people we like.” The same should be true when you’re thinking about hiring an outside digital marketing agency to come in and help your business grow.
Don’t take for granted how great partnerships can form if you like and TRUST the other person. Some of our best clients have been our toughest, but - at the end of the day - both parties have major respect for each other. We genuinely enjoy doing business together. Don’t compromise the likability factor when working with ANYONE - let alone an outside vendor.
We said it, and we stand by it: the digital marketing industry is bullshit. We have to do better to change that. Like we said earlier, there are plenty of good marketing agencies out there; it’s simply unfortunate so many get lost in the mix because of the bad agencies. It’s time we start bringing a sense of accountability to this industry from both an agency perspective and the client’s expectation. Let’s start fixing the problem today.